The civil and criminal justice systems are built on an adversarial model, but only in the criminal sphere does the defendant possess a constitutional right to representation at public expense. As a result, while representation is the default in criminal cases, more than three quarters of civil cases involve an unrepresented party.That disconnect flows from the Supreme Court’s decisions in Gideon v. Wainwright and Lassiter v. Department of Social Services. Gideon held that the Constitution guarantees a right to counsel for a defendant facing imprisonment for a criminal offense, regardless of the nature of the crime or the length of the sentence. Lassiter held that the Constitution does not provide the same guarantee for a parent facing the termination of her legal relationship with her child. What does any of that have to do with gender? Quite a bit, Kathryn Sabbeth and Jessica Steinberg explain in The Gender of Gideon.
Carroll, Maureen. "A Gendered Right to Counsel?" Review of The Gender of Gideon, UCLA Law Review, 69, Jotwell (2021).
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